ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

May 13, 2008

2008.05.13: Sean Bell Bulletin: Queens Shooting Case Exposes Rifts in Black Officers’ Groups

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 2:00 pm

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 2:00 PM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: Sean Bell Bulletin: Queens Shooting Case Exposes Rifts in Black Officers’ Groups

[Note condemnation of the Sean Bell verdict by Charles Billups, Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn & Chairperson, The Grand Council of Guardians]

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/10/nyregion/10guardians.html?ref=nyregion

May 10, 2008
Queens Shooting Case Exposes Rifts in Black Officers’ Groups
By UMAR CHEEMA

Detective Marc Cooper spared no gratitude after his acquittal in the Sean Bell shooting, using a news conference to thank the Lord, his lawyers, his family, his union and Victor Swinton, the president of the Guardians Association, a fraternal organization for black police officers formed more than 60 years ago.

But Detective Cooper’s lawyer added that others had not been so kind. Detective Cooper “felt betrayed by the African-American community,” the lawyer, Paul P. Martin, said in an interview later, adding that “several African-American police organizations did not support him.”

The fatal shooting of Mr. Bell by undercover detectives in Queens, and the trial that resulted, exposed deep divisions in the city, perhaps nowhere more than in the groups that speak for black police officers. While the two men who were wounded in the shooting are black, as was Mr. Bell, so are Detective Cooper and one of the two other indicted detectives.

Detective Cooper was acquitted of reckless endangerment, and the others, Gescard F. Isnora and Michael Oliver, were found not guilty of manslaughter after a State Supreme Court judge ruled that the prosecution had not proved the men were unjustified in shooting.

While the head of the Guardians Association supported Detective Cooper, the Grand Council of Guardians, an umbrella group for black officers working in several law enforcement departments, including correction and parole officers, denounced the outcome.

“The Grand Council of Guardians believes that the Queens district attorney’s office presented a weak case,” said Charles B. Billups, the president of the Grand Council, adding that the state should create a special prosecutor’s office for cases like this.

Another group, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, was repeatedly critical of the shooting and the outcome of the trial. “The judgment is wrong,” said Marq Claxton, the chief spokesman for the group. “I reject it.”

The shooting, in which Mr. Bell was killed and two of his friends were wounded by detectives who said they believed the men had a gun, was a complicated issue for these groups. Besides speaking out for black law enforcement officers, they also have historically acted as civil rights organizations for the larger minority population.

A group of black New York Police Department officers founded the Guardians Association in 1942. Besides pressing for, and occasionally winning, better assignments and quicker promotions for black officers, it also has served in tense moments as a bridge between the community and the police, and spoken out against the latter.

In 1970, for example, the organization criticized what it called a “shoot first and ask questions later” attitude on the police force after a black plainclothes detective was killed by a white officer. Six years later, it threatened to withdraw from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the major police union, for its strong support of a white policeman charged with murder in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Brooklyn. And in 1994, the Guardians Association spoke out against the shooting of a black undercover transit officer by a white officer, saying that he was shot because of his skin color.

The Guardians also have endorsed political candidates; in 2005, the group supported Fernando Ferrer in his challenge to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Inspector Swinton says the group has 2,000 black officers as members; the Police Department has almost 6,000 black officers among its roughly 36,000 members. The group meets on the third Tuesday of every month.

“There was no special meeting on the Sean Bell shooting case,” Inspector Swinton said. “There was just slight discussion.”

Even within the Guardians, there were those who did not agree with Inspector Swinton, who attended the trial to show his support for Detective Cooper. (Detective Cooper is a member of the association; Detective Isnora, the other black officer who faced trial, is not, Inspector Swinton said.)

“Some members say we should support Cooper, some say we should stay neutral,” Inspector Swinton said. Others said that they were tired of hearing of black citizens’ being shot by the police and that “we should have supported the family,” he said, referring to the Bells.

In the past, the Guardians have been criticized by some black officers, including its own members, for not standing up enough to the police hierarchy. State Senator Eric Adams, a former police officer and Guardians official who is a founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, said of the Guardians, “Even if they believe the officers did not do anything wrong, they should have demanded some reforms.”

While Detective Cooper’s lawyer did not name the police organizations he felt had betrayed his client, the 100 Blacks group was among the most vocal in protesting the shooting and the verdict. Shortly after the shooting, leaders of the group issued a vote of no confidence in the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, and charged that the detectives had not undergone proper gun training.

Formed in 1995, the group considers itself a civil rights organization. It is not recognized by the Police Department as a fraternal organization, and its membership is unclear.

“We speak on behalf of everybody whose rights are violated,” said Mr. Claxton, the spokesman. He said the Bell verdict was predictable “but still very offensive to us.”

“It’s very painful,” he said. “There is no justice for the family.”

Last year, members of the Grand Council of Guardians marched with Mr. Bell’s family, and also issued recommendations to reduce the likelihood of similar shootings. While the council is made up of representatives of Guardians chapters for correction officers, parole officers and others, Inspector Swinton maintained that his organization was no longer affiliated with it. “We parted ways before the Sean Bell shooting,” he said, but did not elaborate.

Mr. Billups, the Grand Council president, disputed Inspector Swinton’s characterization, calling the police Guardians “one of our chapters.”

Regardless of how others felt about the case, Inspector Swinton said, his position concerning Detective Cooper was clear. “I would have given him support even if he was found guilty by the court,” he said.

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May 12, 2008

2008.05.12: NYT: Police in Gun Searches Face Disbelief in Court

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 8:23 am

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2008 8:23 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: NYT: Police in Gun Searches Face Disbelief in Court

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/12/nyregion/12guns.html?hp

May 12, 2008
Police in Gun Searches Face Disbelief in Court By BENJAMIN WEISER

After listening carefully to the two policemen, the judge had a problem: He did not believe them.

The officers, who had stopped a man in the Bronx and found a .22-caliber pistol in his fanny pack, testified that they had several reasons to search him: He was loitering, sweating nervously and had a bulge under his jacket.

But the judge, John E. Sprizzo of United States District Court in Manhattan, concluded that the police had simply reached into the pack without cause, found the gun, then “tailored” testimony to justify the illegal search. “You can’t have open season on searches,” said Judge Sprizzo, who refused to allow the gun as evidence, prompting prosecutors to drop the case last May.

Yet for all his disapproval of what the police had done, the judge said he hated to make negative rulings about officers’ credibility. “I don’t like to jeopardize their career and all the rest of it,” he said.

He need not have worried. The Police Department never learned of his criticism, and the officers — like many others whose word has been called into question — faced no disciplinary action or inquiry.

Over the last six years, the police and prosecutors have cooperated in a broad effort that allows convicted felons found with a firearm to be tried in federal court, where sentences are much harsher than in state court. Officials say the initiative has taken hundreds of armed criminals off the street, mostly in the Bronx and Brooklyn, and turned some into informers who have helped solve more serious crimes.

But a closer look at those prosecutions reveals something that has not been trumpeted: more than 20 cases in which judges found police officers’ testimony to be unreliable, inconsistent, twisting the truth, or just plain false. The judges’ language was often withering: “patently incredible,” “riddled with exaggerations,” “unworthy of belief.”

The outrage usually stopped there. With few exceptions, judges did not ask prosecutors to determine whether the officers had broken the law, and prosecutors did not notify police authorities about the judges’ findings. The Police Department said it did not monitor the rulings and was aware of only one of them; after it learned about the cases recently from a reporter, a spokesman said the department would decide whether further review was needed.

Though the number of cases is small, the lack of consequences for officers may seem surprising, given that a city commission on police corruption in the 1990s pinpointed tainted testimony as a problem so pervasive that the police even had a word for it: “testilying.”

And these cases may fuel another longtime concern that flared up again in recent days: suspicions that the police routinely subject people to unjustified searches, frisks or stops. Last week, the Police Department reported a spike in street stops, which it said were “an essential law enforcement tool”: 145,098 from January through March, more than during any quarter in six years.

The judges’ rulings emerge from what are called suppression hearings, in which defendants, before trial, can argue that evidence was seized illegally. The Fourth Amendment sets limits on the conditions that permit a search; if they are not met, judges must exclude the evidence, even if that means allowing a guilty person to go free.

Prosecutors and police officials say many of the suppressions stem from difficult, split-second judgments that officers must make in potentially dangerous situations about whether to search someone for a weapon — decisions that are not always easy to reconstruct in a courtroom.

But one former federal judge, John S. Martin Jr., said the rulings are meant to deter serious abuses by the police. “The reason you suppress,” he said, “is to stop cops from going up to people and searching them when they don’t have reason.”

Federal judges rarely suppress evidence, Judge Martin said, and the unusual number of suppressions in New York City gun cases raises questions about whether such tactics may be common. “We don’t have the statistics for all the people who are hassled, no gun is found, and they never get into the system,” he said.

Whatever one makes of the legal debate, these cases offer a revealing glimpse into some police practices — in the street and on the witness stand — that have gone largely unexamined outside the courtroom.

‘A Dismal Record’

In one case, the officer explained that he had a special technique for detecting who was hiding a gun. He had learned it from a newspaper article that described certain clues to watch for: a hand brushing a pocket, a lopsided gait, a jacket or sweater that seems mismatched or out of season.

That was one reason, he told a judge, that he was certain the man he saw outside a Brooklyn housing project last September was concealing a gun. The man, Anthony McCrae, had moved his hand along the front of his waistband, as if moving a weapon, the officer said. Sure enough, a search turned up a gun.

The judge, John Gleeson of Brooklyn federal court, asked the officer, Kaz Daughtry, how successful his method had been in other cases.

Officer Daughtry replied that over a three-day period, he and his partner had stopped 30 to 50 people. One had a gun.

Calling that a “dismal record,” the judge said the officer’s technique was “little more than guesswork.”

Moreover, Judge Gleeson said he did not believe that Officer Daughtry could even have seen the gesture he found so suspicious: Mr. McCrae’s hand was in front of him and the officer was about 30 feet behind.

The judge would not allow the gun as evidence, and on April 24, federal prosecutors dropped the charges. A law enforcement official said the Brooklyn district attorney’s office learned of the ruling and was reviewing Officer Daughtry’s other cases to see if there were problems.

The Police Department declined to make Officer Daughtry, or any other officers, available for comment.

The decisions to suppress, which The New York Times found by interviewing lawyers and examining more than 1,000 court dockets since 2002, came from 18 federal judges in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Several rulings involved police raids on homes without warrants — and judges’ doubts that the owners had consented to a search, as the police claimed and the law requires.

In one case, a group of officers investigating a fatal shooting in 2002 entered an apartment in the Bronx and arrested a man named Justice Taylor after finding a shotgun in a bedroom. Sgt. Brian Branigan, who led the search, testified in federal court in Manhattan that Mr. Taylor had given the officers permission to enter.

But Mr. Taylor denied that. Two other officers did not mention his giving consent. And the judge, Jed S. Rakoff, said that Sergeant Branigan “felt the need to embellish his account with details indicating consent that the court finds unbelievable.”

Judge Rakoff even took issue with the demeanor of the sergeant, “whose cockiness was evident even on the stand.” His apparent “disregard for niceties,” the judge wrote, made it “wholly plausible” that he had forced his way into the apartment.

The case was dismissed, and the city, while denying liability, paid $280,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit by Mr. Taylor and others in the apartment.

In another case, a judge did more than cast doubt on an officer’s testimony. She proved it wrong.

The judge, Laura Taylor Swain, heard the officer, Sean Lynch, testify that he had shined his flashlight through the window of a parked sport utility vehicle one night in the Bronx and had seen a gun. The driver’s lawyer said that Officer Lynch could not have seen the gun because the car’s windows were heavily tinted.

So after sunset one evening in January 2006, the judge walked outside the Manhattan federal courthouse and shined a flashlight into the vehicle. She could see nothing.

Her inspection and other evidence, she wrote, “give the lie” to Officer Lynch’s account, which she called “impossible.” Prosecutors dropped the case.

The police, to be sure, have a difficult job trying to root out guns without overstepping the law. Some judges acknowledged this in court, saying they believed not that officers had lied, but rather that they had failed to recall an event accurately, perhaps because of its brevity, a limited vantage point or the subsequent passage of time.

And some expressed sympathy for the police. Judge Gleeson said in one case that while he found two officers’ testimony contradictory, he did not want to imply they had lied.

“I’m always reluctant in these circumstances, having been in the executive branch myself, having a feel for the consequences of an adverse credibility determination — I’m sensitive to it,” he said last November.

Judges typically do not discuss cases, but some have said that, in general, it is not their responsibility to follow up their criticisms of officers. The rulings are on the record, for prosecutors or others to act on if they wish.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said that only one of the critical rulings had been reported to the police, by a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who said he had no doubts about the officer’s truthfulness. The police took no action.

More broadly, Mr. Browne said an officer’s failure to convince a judge that his suspicions were justified “doesn’t necessarily mean the officer did something wrong.”

“In each case,” he added, “the suspect in fact had a gun.”

Federal prosecutors would not comment on individual cases. But Michael J. Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said his office reviews any negative rulings about an officer’s credibility to decide whether any action is necessary.

“Any time evidence gets suppressed is a serious thing,” he said.

In court, prosecutors have vigorously defended the officers’ conduct and testimony. In one brief, a prosecutor argued that a police lieutenant had no reason to lie, because that could “jeopardize a fast-moving N.Y.P.D. career.” But writing in response, a federal defender, Deirdre von Dornum, cited cases in which officers faced no repercussions — “not the loss of their jobs, not disciplinary action.”

Still, one judge was so struck by what he said were an officer’s lies that he tried to do something about it.

Two officers had arrested a man and confiscated a gun in a Bronx apartment in 2002. But Judge Martin, then on the Manhattan federal court, was troubled that one officer had given the district attorney’s office an account of how she gained entry to the apartment, then largely contradicted it on the stand.

“This has to be one of the most blatant cases of perjury I’ve seen,” Judge Martin, a former United States attorney, said in his courtroom in September 2003. He said he doubted the officer, Kim Carillo, had “any use for the truth.”

“She will tell it, I think, whatever way it suits her to tell it,” he added.

The judge told the prosecutor to ask his superiors to review Officer Carillo’s testimony. They later replied that they had found no perjury, he said, and that the officer was not at fault.

Side Effects

If the fallout for police officers has been slight, the judges’ rulings have exacted other costs.

For one thing, they may free a weapons offender, and scuttle the chance to win his cooperation in more significant prosecutions, like investigations into violent gangs or gun trafficking. “The lost value of those bigger cases is really incalculable,” said Alan Vinegrad, a former United States attorney in Brooklyn.

Questions about police credibility can also hamper other cases. When a judge finds, for example, that an officer has lied, prosecutors must alert defense lawyers in other cases involving that officer.

Judge David G. Trager of Brooklyn federal court was so indignant over what he called an officer’s “blatantly false” testimony in an October 2005 suppression hearing that he told prosecutors, “I hope you won’t darken my courtroom with this police officer’s testimony again.”

Judge Trager did not suppress the gun, concluding that some of the officer’s testimony had been credible. But the officer, Herbert Martin, was about to testify in a federal trial stemming from another gun arrest.

The defense lawyer in that case, Howard Greenberg, said that learning of Judge Trager’s findings “was like manna from heaven.”

When Officer Martin took the stand in that trial, Mr. Greenberg confronted him, asking, “Didn’t you commit perjury a week ago when you said in this very building, in an altogether different case, that someone had a gun in his waist?”

The officer denied that he had lied. But Mr. Greenberg said he believed that his question made an impression on the jury. His client was acquitted.

May 8, 2008

2008.05.08: Sean Bell Bulletin: Report on Yesterday’s Protests

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 2:33 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Sean Bell Bulletin: Report on Yesterday’s Protests

“All the support and everyone by my side saying Sean’s name — It feels good.” –Paultre Bell, Sean’s Widow

By Noha Arafa (CDD-Brooklyn)

Yesterday, at least one thousand people protested around the city against the acquittal of police officers who killed Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets in 2006. Two hundred and sixteen protesters were arrested in peaceful civil disobedience.

In Brooklyn Rev. Herbert Daughtry and City Councilmember Charles Barron led 300-400 protesters, who blocked traffic at the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and the BQE. Forty protesters were arrested, including several elderly ladies. After the arrests, some Brooklyn protesters joined others for a rally at NYPD Headquarters, awaiting the release of all those arrested.

It was particularly moving to see how protesters remain galvanized by the need to speak out. Civil disobedience will continue every Wednesday, escalating toward a citywide shutdown.

Legal Aid participants in protests around the city included Antonia Codling (CDD-Bronx); Mimi Rosenberg (Civil-Brooklyn), one of the Brooklyn arrestees; Lucy Herschel (CDD-Queens); and Michael Letwin, Charles Billups and Noha Arafa (CDD-Brooklyn).

Members of SEIU and others unions also protested at one of the Manhattan sites.

At 7 p.m. tonight, there is a citywide strategy meeting about upcoming at the House of the Lord Church, Atlantic Ave. (at Hoyt Street), Brooklyn. Further information will be forthcoming.

Attached (below) is a poster from yesterday’s demonstration that reads “We Are All Sean Bell — This Whole Damn System is Guilty.” Please put them up in your office and forward widely to others.

Below are selected reports of yesterday’s protest and the Sean Bell case.

No Justice — No Peace.

We will not be silent until justice is achieved.

“We’ll do this 365 days a year if we have to.” — Sean Bell’s friend, Joseph Guzman, injured in the November 2006 shooting.

——–

Selected Reports

Speaking after his release Wednesday night, Sharpton said, “I think this dispels the myth that people are not interested. … I think a real statement was made,” he added of the protests. “We’re very proud of it”. . . .

Seeing Wednesday’s turnout — “all the support and everyone by my side saying Sean’s name — It feels good,” said Paultre Bell.

Bell’s friend Joseph Guzman, injured in the November 2006 shooting said: “We’ll do this 365 days a year if we have to”. . . .

“The system can not go on as usual,” said Mimi Rosenburg, 55, a lawyer from Bay Ridge, who sat by a road near the Brooklyn Bridge and waited to be arrested. “There needs to be justice for Sean Bell. I think civil disobedience is necessary.”

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/newyork/ny-nybell0508,0,3344732.story

*****

Here are pictures from the action that began at Varick & Houston Streets, marched slowly for a half mile along a route that was not disclosed in advance to those gathered, and stopped to block two adjacent intersections at Hudson & Canal, resulting in nearly two dozen arrests. Representing in colors were the NAACP and SEIU.

http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2008/05/97023.html

*****

Protesters participated in spirited chants of “We are all Sean Bell, NYPD go to hell!” and “No justice, no peace! Fire racist police!”

“We aren’t going to let our people get slaughtered,” said activist and organizer Amos Hughes. “People can say we need to respect the verdict, but I say we don’t have democracy.” He added, “Black people don’t have rights–only the right to remain silent”. . . .

Cory Wise, a wrongly accused and exonerated defendant in the Central Park jogger case in the 1990s, was among those arrested. Moments before his arrest, he said, “I was in a situation like this with the police. So right now, I call myself a freedom fighter.”

http://socialistworker.org/2008/05/08/we-are-all-sean-bell

*****

Nearly 60% of voters disagree with the “not guilty” verdict, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. Just over a third of white voters oppose the verdict, compared with 89% of black voters, and 71% of Hispanic voters. . . .  “There is a substantial racial divide in New York City on the Sean Bell case and the broader issues of police conduct,” Quinnipiac Polling Institute director Maurice Carroll said in a statement.

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080508/FREE/733407584/1097

*****

During the last two years the NYPD reported the race of those shot by police, nearly 90 percent of the people shot at by officers were black or Latino. In 1998 the Department stopped reporting the race of civilian targets and started reporting the breed of dogs being shot.

http://www.nyclu.org/node/1756

*****

Photos, Audio and Video:

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/newyork/ny-nybell0508,0,3344732.story

http://video.google.com/videosearch?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=s&hl=en&q=%22sean%20bell%22%20%22sharpton%22%20%22may%207%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv

http://www.blackvoices.com/blogs/2008/05/08/sean-bell-protest-al-sharpton-arrested/

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/5/8/200_arrested_in_massive_show_of

http://homepage.mac.com/brainyandbrawny/Protest/PhotoAlbum46.html

SeanBellPoster1

May 7, 2008

2008.05.07: NYCLU: Racist Pattern of NYPD Shootings

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 9:33 am

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 9:33 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: NYCLU: Racist Pattern of NYPD Shootings

http://www.nyclu.org/node/1756

NYCLU Analysis of NYPD Reports Reveals Troubling Patterns in Police Shootings, Lack of Diversity in NYPD Leadership

May 5, 2008 —

The New York Civil Liberties Union today released an analysis of recently obtained NYPD reports that raise serious questions about police shooting practices and about the lack of racial diversity in the NYPD’s leadership. The highlights of the analysis, which was included in testimony delivered today to the City Council this morning, are:

* During the last two years the NYPD reported the race of those shot by police, nearly 90 percent of the people shot at by officers were black or Latino. In 1998 the Department stopped reporting the race of civilian targets and started reporting the breed of dogs being shot.

* The NYPD command structure remains almost entirely white. At the end of 2002, 85.3 percent of the 735 members of the NYPD at or above the rank of captain were white males, with blacks holding only 3.9 percent of those positions. At the end of 2007, after five years of a large number of retirements and promotions, 84.3 percent of leadership positions were held by white males, with the numbers of blacks actually shrinking to 3.7 percent.

* In 77 percent of the incidents where officers fired their weapons at civilians between 1999 and 2006, the officers were the only ones shooting, with officers often shooting at unarmed civilians (like Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo).

* In 2006 (the most recent year for which there is information), police officers fired an average of five shots per incident when they were the only ones shooting, which is the highest number for the entire eight years for which these figures have been reported.

The NYCLU’s analysis was delivered this morning at a Public Safety Committee hearing about a bill that would require the NYPD to provide detailed reports about shooting incidents, including the race of civilians shot at by the police. The NYPD opposed the bill.

“These numbers scream out for serious review by the City Council,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “As with the hundreds of thousands of stops and frisks and the hundreds of thousands of marijuana arrests, being black should not make people a target for a police shooting.”

“In the aftermath of the Sean Bell verdict, it is particularly important that there be full disclosure about every aspect of NYPD shootings, including the role that race may be playing,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who delivered this morning’s testimony. “We are deeply concerned about the figures showing that virtually everyone shot at by the police is black or Latino. Equally troubling is the fact that the NYPD leadership remains almost entirely white, with only a tiny number of black supervisors. The NYPD will never shake concerns about racial insensitivity unless it becomes more diverse at the top.”

May 6, 2008

2008.05.06: Attorneys Needed for Sean Bell CD Tomorrow

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 3:12 pm

From:  Arafa, Noha
Sent:  Tuesday, May 06, 2008 10:12 AM
To:  ALAA MEMBERS
Subject:  Attorneys Needed for Sean Bell CD Tomorrow

Attorneys are needed tomorrow for the slowdown and pray in.  The attorney’s responsibilities will be taking down the name and date of birth of those planning on getting arrested, mediating between the police and protestors, keeping track of those arrested and going to the precinct on behalf of those who were arrested.  If you are interested please contact me no later than tomorrow at 1pm. I will give you more details as well as inform you on how things will be run. There are six different sites where attorneys are needed, which are listed below.

 

REV. AL SHARPTON TO LEAD CITYWIDE “SLOWDOWN” AND “PRAY IN” ON WEDNESDAY TO LEAD UP TO THE CITYWIDE SHUT DOWN LATER THIS SPRING

Monday, May 5, 2008 (New York, NY) –

Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network, will lead a citywide “pray-in” on Wednesday, May, 7th at six locations around New York City to lead up to an eventual citywide shut down this Spring. Joining Rev. Sharpton in civil disobedience will be Nicole Paultre Bell, Joseph Guzman, Trent Benefield and other community and religious leaders to call upon the United States Department of Justice to intervene in the case.

According to Rev. Sharpton, participants in Wednesday’s “pray-ins” at six locations across the city should be prepared to go to jail to protest the acquittals of the three detectives. “If you are not going to lock up the guilty in this town, then I guess you’ll have to lock up the innocent,” says Rev. Sharpton. Rev. Sharpton said protesters at each location would get down on their knees in prayer. He said he hopes the acts of civil disobedience will continue until an eventual citywide day to shutdown NYC later this Spring. Also in follow-up to several misleading reports that have compared the acts of civil disobedience around the Amadou Diallo case with the Sean Bell case: in the Diallo case, Rev. Sharpton and others engaged in 13-days of civil disobedience at One Police Plaza which led to indictments. There were no acts of civil disobedience after the acquittals. In the Sean Bell case, Rev. Sharpton organized 50,000 people to march with National Action Network down Fifth Avenue in New York City which far exceeded any protest acts conducted during the Amadou Diallo case.

The 3:00 p.m. Gathering Points for the May 7th Citywide Slowdown and Pray-Ins:

Site A: 125th and Third Avenue (led by W. Franklyn Richardson, Chairman of National Action Network)

Site B: Third Avenue and 60th Street (Led by National Action Network senior staff)

Site C: 34th and Park Avenue (Led by National Action Network Senior Staff)

Site D: Varick and Houston Street (Led by Hazel Dukes, NAACP and Labor leaders)

Site E: One Police Plaza (Led by Rev. Al Sharpton. Nicole Paultre Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield will be at this location)

Site F: House of the Lord Church, Brooklyn, New York (Led by Rev. Herbert Daughtry)

2008.05.06: Attorneys Needed for Sean Bell CD Tomorrow

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 10:12 am

From:  Arafa, Noha
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 10:12 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Attorneys Needed for Sean Bell CD Tomorrow

Attorneys are needed tomorrow for the slowdown and pray in.  The attorney’s responsibilities will be taking down the name and date of birth of those planning on getting arrested, mediating between the police and protestors, keeping track of those arrested and going to the precinct on behalf of those who were arrested.  If you are interested please contact me no later than tomorrow at 1pm. I will give you more details as well as inform you on how things will be run. There are six different sites where attorneys are needed, which are listed below.

REV. AL SHARPTON TO LEAD CITYWIDE “SLOWDOWN” AND “PRAY IN” ON WEDNESDAY TO LEAD UP TO THE CITYWIDE SHUT DOWN LATER THIS SPRING

Monday, May 5, 2008 (New York, NY) –

Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network, will lead a citywide “pray-in” on Wednesday, May, 7th at six locations around New York City to lead up to an eventual citywide shut down this Spring. Joining Rev. Sharpton in civil disobedience will be Nicole Paultre Bell, Joseph Guzman, Trent Benefield and other community and religious leaders to call upon the United States Department of Justice to intervene in the case.

According to Rev. Sharpton, participants in Wednesday’s “pray-ins” at six locations across the city should be prepared to go to jail to protest the acquittals of the three detectives. “If you are not going to lock up the guilty in this town, then I guess you’ll have to lock up the innocent,” says Rev. Sharpton. Rev. Sharpton said protesters at each location would get down on their knees in prayer. He said he hopes the acts of civil disobedience will continue until an eventual citywide day to shutdown NYC later this Spring. Also in follow-up to several misleading reports that have compared the acts of civil disobedience around the Amadou Diallo case with the Sean Bell case: in the Diallo case, Rev. Sharpton and others engaged in 13-days of civil disobedience at One Police Plaza which led to indictments. There were no acts of civil disobedience after the acquittals. In the Sean Bell case, Rev. Sharpton organized 50,000 people to march with National Action Network down Fifth Avenue in New York City which far exceeded any protest acts conducted during the Amadou Diallo case.

The 3:00 p.m. Gathering Points for the May 7th Citywide Slowdown and Pray-Ins:

Site A: 125th and Third Avenue (led by W. Franklyn Richardson, Chairman of National Action Network)

Site B: Third Avenue and 60th Street (Led by National Action Network senior staff)

Site C: 34th and Park Avenue (Led by National Action Network Senior Staff)

Site D: Varick and Houston Street (Led by Hazel Dukes, NAACP and Labor leaders)

Site E: One Police Plaza (Led by Rev. Al Sharpton. Nicole Paultre Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield will be at this location)

Site F: House of the Lord Church, Brooklyn, New York (Led by Rev. Herbert Daughtry)

2008.05.06: NYT: Police Data Shows Increase in Street Stops

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 8:26 am

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 8:26 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: NYT: Police Data Shows Increase in Street Stops

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/nyregion/06frisk.html?hp

May 6, 2008

Police Data Shows Increase in Street Stops

By AL BAKER

Despite criticism about aggressive policing, New York City police officers stopped more people on the streets during the first three months of 2008 than during any quarter in the six years the Police Department has reported the data.

The 145,098 stops from January through March — up from 134,029 during the same quarter a year earlier — led to 8,711 arrests and put the Bloomberg administration on course for the highest annual total. The numbers also reflect an increased reliance on a practice that has become an emotional flashpoint, particularly after the fatal police shooting of Sean Bell in 2006.

Street stops have gradually increased, to 508,540 in 2006 from 97,296 in 2002, according to departmental statistics. Because more than half of those stopped were black, the increases led some police critics to suggest that minorities were being unfairly singled out, though the police reject such claims.

Last year, there was a dip in the number of stops, to 468,932. If the numbers for the first quarter of 2008 continue apace, the Police Department could end the year with about 600,000 street stops.

“It’s a record number, there’s nothing even close,” said Christopher T. Dunn, the associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who has mapped the quarterly numbers provided by the Police Department.

Mr. Dunn’s analysis shows that the next highest tally of stops for a single quarter was 136,851, in the first three months of 2006.

To police officials, the practice of stopping civilians on the streets, to question and search them — sometimes looking for illegal guns — is just one of many crime-suppression tactics. The increased number shows that the department is standing by its strategy as a worthy practice, people in and outside of city government said.

“Stop-and-questioning or stop-and-frisks of individuals in connection with suspected criminal activity is an essential law enforcement tool,” said Assistant Chief Michael Collins, a police spokesman. “The number of stops conducted by police officers is driven by the situations they encounter on patrol.”

He added: “A look at the data classified by the race and gender of those stopped indicates that the percentages are nearly identical to last year. The data indicates no racial bias in the stops, but it does show a relationship between the percentage of individuals stopped and the descriptions of suspects as provided by crime victims or, in the case of murder, surviving witnesses.”

Peter F. Vallone Jr., the chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said: “The increase in numbers is a surprise to me because a politically correct reaction to the Bell trial might be to cut back on police and civilian interaction and to cut back on efforts to get illegal guns off the streets. But to the mayor’s and the police commissioner’s credit, they have not done that.”

The new quarterly numbers were released on Monday by Mr. Vallone’s office after police officials turned them over to the City Council on Friday. The new numbers show that 50.8 percent of the people stopped were black. That is consistent with the percentage stopped in prior years, Mr. Dunn said. About a fourth of the city’s residents are black, according to 2006 data.

Mr. Vallone raised the issue at a hearing Monday on other proposals to require more reporting by the police on firearms discharges and other matters.

The guidelines for monitoring stop-and-frisk encounters were set in a city law signed in 2001, and in a federal court case settled by the Bloomberg administration in 2004. Police officials now give the City Council a report, four times a year, disclosing how many people are stopped and questioned by officers — and sometimes frisked — and the reasons for the stops.

Those reports do not include all the data the department compiles on street stops, however, and Mr. Dunn said the civil liberties group needed access to all the data to determine whether race played a role.

After the department rejected the Council’s requests to turn over that database, the civil liberties group sued for access to it in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. The New York Times, the New York City Bar Association and 21 scholars from across the country have filed briefs in support of the suit. The case is pending.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly has said his officers do not practice racial profiling in making the stops. The department gave the database to the RAND Corporation, a private nonprofit organization, for an outside analysis, and to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, an organization based at the University of Michigan and financed by the Department of Justice, to format and distribute crime data to academic researchers.

The results of the RAND analysis were released in November and found “small racial differences in the rates of frisk, search, use of force and arrest.”

Mr. Dunn said the department appeared to have been emboldened by the RAND report.

“The numbers are troubling both because of the number of people stopped and because blacks continue to be, overwhelmingly, the ones who are stopped,” Mr. Dunn said. “Someone outside the Police Department, like the mayor’s office, the City Council or the Justice Department has now got to step in and demand a public accounting of the department’s stop-and-frisk practices.”

The police have said that while a large percentage of the street stops involve black people, an even larger percentage of crimes involve suspects described as black by their victims.

Mr. Dunn said less than 20 percent of the stops were attributable to a police officer’s response to a report about a suspect. “The vast majority of stops are the result of a police officer spontaneously stopping someone because of something they claim to have observed on the street,” he said.

Andrew Case, a spokesman for the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, said that even as stops have increased, the number of complaints about them has remained relatively steady.

“When we find misconduct for bad stops, we have seen lower and lower levels of discipline, and that might reduce the disincentives for committing bad stops,” he said. “The idea is that if officers are not worried about being punished, they might have less to fear if a stop is questionable.”

May 5, 2008

2008.05.05: Sean Bell Civil Disobedience Plans for 5/7 @3pm

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 4:18 pm

From:  Kurti, Rebecca
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 4:18 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Sean Bell Civil Disobedience Plans for 5/7 @3pm

FYI  – Mass civil disobediences are planned for this Wednesday, 5/7 at 3pm to push for a federal civil rights prosecution of the police officers in the Sean Bell case.

The meeting places will be 125th Street and Third Avenue; Park Avenue and 34th Street; 60th Street and Third Avenue; One Police Plaza; Varick and Houston streets; and in Brooklyn at House of the Lord Pentecostal Church, 415 Atlantic Ave.

The organizers are encouraging people to come to support even if they are not able to partake in the civil disobedience part of it.

*********************

newsday.com/news/local/newyork/ny-libell03,0,3760942.story

Newsday.com

Sites of Bell verdict protest near transit hot spots

BY KEITH HERBERT

keith.herbert@newsday.com

9:51 PM EDT, May 3, 2008

People protesting the acquittal of detectives in the fatal shooting of Sean Bell will gather Wednesday near six transit choke points around New York City before leading a march and “pray-in” organizers anticipate will lead to some arrests, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Saturday.

Speaking at the “House of Justice,” headquarters for his National Action Network on 145th Street in Harlem, Sharpton said the civil disobedience will continue weekly, and produce a “citywide shutdown” to press for a civil rights prosecution.

“If you’re not going to lock up the guilty in this town, then I guess you’re going to have to lock up the innocent,” he said.

The meeting places will be 125th Street and Third Avenue; Park Avenue and 34th Street; 60th Street and Third Avenue; One Police Plaza; Varick and Houston streets; and in Brooklyn at House of the Lord Pentecostal Church, 415 Atlantic Ave. Protesters will meet at 3 p.m., Sharpton said.

“Where we’re going, those that know won’t say, and those who’ll say don’t know,” Sharpton said.

“All they’ll know is why we’re going,” he added. “And we’re going because the world must see that we’re in a climate where the justice system in this state will lock up folks who’ll be nonviolent and pray, but will not lock up police.”

Several of the locations are near transportation pressure points, including the Triborough Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, the Queens Midtown Tunnel on the East Side and the Holland Tunnel on the West Side — reminiscent of locations targeted by Sharpton and supporters in protests during the so-called “Days of Rage” nearly two decades ago, and again in 1999 after the police killing of Amadou Diallo.

On April 25, Queens State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Cooperman cleared three detectives — Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper — in the shooting of Bell and two of his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, outside a Jamaica, Queens, strip club on Nov. 25, 2006.

Prosecutors failed, the judge said, to undercut the officers’ claims that they fired a 50-shot barrage in self-defense against Bell, who was unarmed. Within hours, the Department of Justice said the Eastern District U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn and the FBI would be conducting an “independent review into the facts and circumstances” in the Bell case to see whether a federal civil rights prosecution was warranted.

In April 1999, Sharpton led protests of the killing of Diallo, 23, an unarmed West African immigrant hit 19 times in a fusillade of 41 bullets by four officers in the Bronx.

Then, about 7,000 protesters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan and held a rally at One Police Plaza to speak against police brutality. The protests were peaceful, though Sharpton and others — including Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem), actress Susan Sarandon and activist Jesse Jackson — were arrested.

“The vigils and demonstrations related to the Bell case to date have not been violent,” said Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne. “We have no reason expect otherwise now. The police department, as it is on any day, is prepared for any contingency.”

Police could not confirm Saturday if organizers had applied for permits for the planned protests.

Staff writers Christina Hernandez and Andrew Strickler contributed to this story.

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